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‘Monumental Nobodies’: Artist paints civic sculptures with a subversive twist
12:34 pm



In Glasgow, the city where I live, there’s an equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington. This category-A monument situated on Queen Street, outside the Gallery of Modern Art, is famous not for its subject but rather for the regularity that traffic cones are placed on the grand Duke’s bonce. No one knows who puts them there. No sooner is one removed than another has replaced it. The Duke and his orange and white headgear are a symbol of the gallus nature of the city.

According to the city council, it costs $15,000 a year to have these pesky cones removed. A few years ago, the council considered raising the statue higher onto a second plinth—thus preventing any cheeky wee monkeys from hoisting yet another one on its head. In response, a Facebook campaign was started to save the cone. It received 75,000 “likes” in the first 24-hours. Since then the council installed CCTV cameras in a bid to capture the culprit(s) cone-handed.

This morning as I walked past the statue a fresh cone sat a jaunty angle on the Duke’s head. It’s not a mark of disrespect but rather a questioning of our inherited values, identity and history. History, after all, is written by the victors.

Matthew Quick asks similar questions about history, identity and inherited values with his series of paintings Monumental Nobodies. His starting point was “the monuments of empire and what happens to the things left behind, how they might be represented, or reutilised or reinterpreted.” He was also inspired by the sonnet “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley that tells of:

Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The broken visage is all that remains of the once great king. Though there is a slight irony in the sonnet’s conceit that Ozymandias’ memory lives on in the lines of Shelley’s immortal posey.

Quick was reminded of this poem after watching television footage of American soldiers pull down a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad during the Iraq War in 2003.

Removing the contemporary politics of the moment, I thought: ‘This is an invading army going in there and basically destroying art’.

The soldiers actions made Quick think of the ancient sack of Rome—“Except that the Visigoths were barbarians and the Americans did it for the cameras. It was a deliberate and stage-managed act,” as he explained in an interview

This led Australian Quick to produce Monumental Nobodies—a series of paintings re-examining our relationship with civic and classical sculptures.

Quick was late to his career as an artist. He had been a graphic designer, author, lecturer and art director before he started painting in earnest. When he was thirty-six, he was diagnosed with melanoma. The doctor’s prognosis was not good. It was suggested he may only have five years left to live. This caused Quick to reevaluate his life.

If you have only got a certain amount of time, what would you really like to be doing? It was the wake-up call I needed. Now I’m in a big rush. I am making up for lost time – what I’m doing now is what I’ve always wanted to do.

Thirteen years on, Quick is thankfully still alive and continues with his chosen career. It’s been over a decade since he turned “pro.” Since then he has won over sixty awards for his artwork and has exhibited in Australia and Europe. Technically brilliant, his work is powerful iconic and wonderfully cerebral. 

Quick started Monumental Nobodies before ISIS began thuggishly destroying historic buildings and artwork.

When you think about what ISIS is doing now, destroying artwork, we condemn that justifiably … but when the Americans did it, it was celebrated. These sorts of things intrigue me.

A statue of Saddam Hussein can be replaced but ancient monuments and temples cannot.

The irony is that when I started working on this series, the stuff with ISIS hadn’t happened. It has given it an extra layer of gravitas.

More of Matthew Quick’s work can be seen here.
‘The Great Cover Up.’
‘The Eternal Struggle.’
More ‘Monumental Nobodies,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘U.S. sorry for fake Hiroshima’: The ill-advised ‘re-enactment’ of the Little Boy bomb drop, 1976
09:27 am



Colonel Paul W. Tibbets of the Army Air Forces standing next to the Enola Gay

Paul W. Tibbets held a unique distinction in the annals of history. He was the pilot of the Enola Gay (which was named after his mother, Enola Gay Tibbets) and thus was the man who carried out the command to drop the atomic bomb known as “Little Boy” on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, making him the first person to detonate an atomic bomb in warfare. As was the conventional view for Americans of his time, Tibbets never expressed any pangs of regret about the act of killing upwards of 60,000 people in a matter of minutes, tending instead to emphasize the combat fatalities averted by bringing the World War II to a speedier end.

It is likely that he was even less apologetic about his participation in an air show 31 years later in which he re-enacted the Hiroshima bombing using a restored B-29 Superfortress (the same model as the Enola Gay) named “Fifi,” a reference to the co-pilot’s girlfriend. This event took place on October 10, 1976, in front of a large paying crowd reported as 18,000 (but possibly as large as 40,000) in Harlingen, Texas. Tibbets reenacted his historic Enola Gay mission—the event actually included a “simulated” atomic explosion—and repeated the flight twice the next day.

The impetus of the event was to raise money for a WWII aircraft preservation group called the Confederate Air Force—today the group goes by the name the Commemorative Air Force. Fascinatingly, the U.S. Army supplied a detonation team to assist with the “atomic-bomb simulator,” in other words “a barrel of explosives” that produced the crowd-pleasing mushroom-shaped cloud, which you can see in the news article reproduced below.

This was not the first time the Hiroshima bombing had been re-enacted. On October 27, 1945, the Los Angeles Coliseum hosted an event called “Tribute To Victory.” According to Daniel Tiffany’s book Toy Medium: Materialism and Modern Lyric, “this early simulation of an atomic blast hinted at the ‘devastation’ associated with Hiroshima—an image ‘almost too real’ for the crowd.” That event, however, did not garner a crowd of forty thousand—it drew roughly a hundred thousand! Considering that the Coliseum event was just a few months after the end of World War II, the morbid curiosity and willingness to offend the Japanese were a little bit more understandable.

It’s doubtful whether many of the spectators in attendance found the 1976 air show in Harlingen to be in poor taste, but in any case it did cause a minor international incident. Understandably, when the citizens of Japan learned of this event, they were none too happy about it.

The mayor of Hiroshima at that time was a man named Takeshi Araki, and apparently it took some doing to get him to believe that the incident had actually taken place. Araki called the re-enactment “a blasphemy” and “grotesque.” In a later press release he addressed the organizers of the air show: “What you have done insults the Japanese people who suffered from the bomb. I feel real rage and we shall protest to the U.S. government and all concerned.” Here was the reaction of Foreign Minister Zentaro Kosaka: “A bomb and a mushroom-shaped cloud is a real nightmare for the Japanese. Although it was a civilian air show, I cannot refrain from feeling badly. They lacked consideration for the feelings of others.”

October 10 was a Saturday; on Wednesday, October 14, 1976, the U.S. Embassy in Japan issued an apology for the Texas air show, triggering this memorable headline:

Right-wing nuts insist that Barack Obama apologized for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb attacks, but that’s not true. The United States has still not apologized for those events—but at least we apologized for the fake Hiroshima bombing! One out of two ain’t bad!

The U.S. government may have apologized but of course the CAF did no such thing, issuing a statement that included these words: “We feel that this demonstration was altogether proper and presented in an appropriate manner. We do not owe an apology to anyone.”


You can see actual footage of Tibbets participating in the re-enactment—complete with the mushroom cloud effect—by jumping to the 1:50 juncture of this video, which we unfortunately can’t embed.
via Conelrad

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Meet Craig Smith, L.A. pop-folk golden boy turned lost psychedelic genius, then tragic acid casualty
10:42 am



Rock lore loves to romanticize the drug casualty. Of course it’s wrong, but it’s so hard to resist imagining the tantalizing might-have-beens that surround the likes of Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, and Skip Spence, all of whom suffered from mental illnesses almost certainly exacerbated by their enthusiastic drug use. Pot and acid have inarguably inspired creativity by breaking down the artificial walls between categories that exist only in our minds, but there are people who can’t handle that and lose it. And it’s really not so romantic, especially when the artists who fall through that crack never got the chances that Spence, Barrett, and Erickson had at recognition.

Ugly Things’ Mike Stax has authored a new book, Swim Through the Darkness, to be published in September by Process Media, which tells the tale of Maitreya Kali, born Craig Smith in 1945. He should have been a really goddamn big deal—he landed an easy entry to the L.A. music scene in 1963 when he successfully auditioned to be one of The Good Time Singers, a ten-person folk band assembled to serve as backing vocalists, musicians, and skit extras on The Andy Williams Show. Smith was an instant standout in the ensemble, making up for novice guitar playing with fine singing, an ebullient screen presence, and a toothpaste-commercial smile. In this clip, he’s the first to appear, bounding out of the starting gate ahead of the pack. He even gets lines.


The Good Time Singers in 1963. Smith is the one with the teeth, back row, second from right.

While Smith’s contributions to the Good Time Singers LPs he preformed on were limited to background vocals, he was quietly and unbeknownst to his bandmates pursuing a career as a songwriter in his own right. When the group’s tenure on William’s show ended in 1966, Smith intended to split off and start a duo with his bandmate Lee Montgomery, but that was not to be—Smith instead began auditioning for TV roles. Neat trivia item: Smith went to public school with Micky Dolenz. Smith and Dolenz both auditioned for The Monkees and for a more dramatic music-oriented series called The Happeners. I doubt I have to tell you that Dolenz became a Monkee. Smith’s audition for The Happeners was successful and he was cast as a lead, but though those who saw the pilot raved, the show never got picked up. According to TV Obscurities:

A “musical-drama,” The Happeners told the story of a Greenwich Village folk-rock trio making their way in New York City. Singers Suzannah Jordan, Chris Ducey and Craig Smith were chosen to portray the trio after 2,000 auditions in New York City and Hollywood and each episode was to include five original songs written by Bob Bower.

According to The New York Times, it cost Plautus between $6,000 and $7,000 to buy the airtime to show the pilot. Morris told Broadcasting that “at first, ABC was most interested. It tested well, and [ABC president] Leonard Goldenson called it ‘the finest pilot I’ve ever seen.’ But when sponsorship was not immediately forthcoming, the network withdrew.”

Despite near-unanimous acclaim, the pilot, alas, is not available for viewing online.

Disappointing though that experience was, it wasn’t an entirely pyrrhic victory for Smith, who embarked on a fruitful creative partnership with his Happeners co-star Chris Ducey. Together, they formed the eponymous duo Chris and Craig, which in turn morphed into the classic lost psych band The Penny Arkade, who received the patronage and production skills of The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith. Check out the Penny Arkade tune “Swim,” followed by the extremely rare Chris and Craig song “Our Love has Come Today,” which has long existed only as an acetate in Chris Ducey’s possession, and has never been heard by the public until today.
Hear the song, and more, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Climb aboard ‘Hare-Force One,’ Hugh Hefner’s $5 million DC-9 jet with its own discothèque
09:25 am



‘Hare-Force One’ aka the ‘Big Bunny’ Hugh Hefner’s DC-9 jet.
Well, would you expect anything less from what was basically the Playboy Mansion with wings? Hugh Hefner’s custom DC-9 jet “Hare-Force One” (also widely known as the “Big Bunny”) pretty much had that and a lot more as you might imagine. In fact the jet was so ostentatious that when Hefner has it painted black so it would “stand out” while in flight he added spotlights to the tail of the plane so that the Playboy Bunny logo could still be seen at night. Nice.

Hef’s fabulous ‘Jet Bunnies’ standing outside of ‘Hare-Force One’ aka the ‘Big Bunny.’
Hef had his “Jet Bunnies” (who were cherry-picked from Playboy clubs in LA and Chicago) attend formal stewardess training at a school run by Continental Airlines and their outfits were as slick as the jet itself, consisting of leatherette mini-dresses, leatherette pants and black go-go boots. According to Hefner he wanted his stewardesses to look like “Bond Girls” and again since this is Hugh Hefner we’re talking about how they did. Of the many features that the plane had to offer were a discothèque, a bar, a shower and a movie theater of sorts featuring a Cinemascope projector. There was also a round water bed covered in fur that was accessed through Hef’s private entrance. Essentially the jet included all the comforts of “home” as long as your actual home was the Playboy Mansion.

During the time that Hef owned the plane it made numerous trips around the world and at the end of the Vietnam War became a giant stork of sorts used to bring orphans to their new adoptive homes in the U.S. Hefner would routinely lend out the use of the jet to celebrities like Yul Brynner, Elvis and Sonny and Cher and also entertained a litany of famous guests like Twilight Zone host Rod Serling, director Roman Polanski and poet and author Shel Silverstein. Hefner sold the jet in 1975 to Venezuela Airlines and in a 2010 interview for the Wall Street Journal when asked if he missed his sweet, sweet mile-high club ride his response was “only when I fly.” Awww. Images of Hef’s beloved Big Bunny, Hare-Force One follow.


More livin’ large with Hugh Hefner after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Simpleton Sabotage: Watch out, that asshole at the office might be a double agent!
02:19 pm



That annoying doofus in your office who irritates the shit out of you might not be as dumb as he looks. He could be working for the enemy. He could be a saboteur.

During the Second World War, the Office of Strategic Services (forerunner to the CIA) issued a field manual called Simple Sabotage intended for use by resistance fighters operating behind enemy lines. The 32-page booklet gave practical advice on how to perpetrate sabotage by “purposeful stupidity.” This ranged from working slowly, using the wrong tools, slashing tires, losing important mail, misfiling information, spreading false rumors, damaging technical equipment and arson.

Sabotage varies from highly technical coup de main acts that require detailed planning and the use of specially-trained operatives, to innumerable simple acts which the ordinary individual citizen-saboteur can perform. This paper is primarily concerned with the latter type. Simple sabotage does not require specially prepared tools or equipment; it is executed by an ordinary citizen who may or may not act individually and without the necessity for active connection with an organized group; and it is carried out in such a way as to involve a minimum danger of injury, detection, and reprisal.

Where destruction is involved, the weapons of the citizen-saboteur are salt, nails, candles, pebbles, thread, or any other materials he might normally be expected to possess as a householder or as a worker in his particular occupation. His arsenal is the kitchen shelf, the trash pile, his own usual kit of tools and supplies. The targets of his sabotage are usually objects to which he has normal and inconspicuous access in everyday life.

A second type of simple sabotage requires no destructive tools whatsoever and produces physical damage, if any, by highly indirect means. It is based on universal opportunities to make faulty decisions, to adopt a noncooperative attitude, and to induce others to follow suit. Making a faulty decision may be simply a matter of placing tools in one spot instead of another. A non-cooperative attitude may involve nothing more than creating an unpleasant situation among one’s fellow workers, engaging in bickerings, or displaying surliness and stupidity.

This type of activity, sometimes referred to as the “human element,” is frequently responsible for accidents, delays, and general obstruction even under normal conditions. The potential saboteur should discover what types of faulty decisions and the operations are normally found in this kind of work and should then devise his sabotage so as to enlarge that “margin for error.”

The manual offered five top tips to “simple sabotage”:

Managers and Supervisors: To lower morale and production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.

Employees: Work slowly. Think of ways to increase the number of movements needed to do your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one; try to make a small wrench do instead of a big one.

Organizations and Conferences: When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large and bureaucratic as possible. Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.

Telephone: At office, hotel and local telephone switchboards, delay putting calls through, give out wrong numbers, cut people off “accidentally,” or forget to disconnect them so that the line cannot be used again.

Transportation: Make train travel as inconvenient as possible for enemy personnel. Issue two tickets for the same seat on a train in order to set up an “interesting” argument.

This is all fascinating stuff. Among the tactics listed for those working in “organizations and production” are eight points which are appear to be still in use today:

(1) Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

(2) Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.

(3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.

(4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

(5) Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.

(6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.

(7) Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

(8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

Sounds uncannily like life in a modern organization…. Last year, a trio updated the OSS manual to one which detected and rooted out simple sabotage in the workplace.

Simple Sabotage was declassified by the CIA in 2008. The whole document can be read below—click on image to view larger size.
Read the rest of ‘Simple Sabotage,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Posers’: Vintage doc takes a stroll down the King’s Rd. looking for New Romantics, 1981
12:35 pm

Pop Culture


The Blitz Club where the Eighties were invented.
Punk was boring. Punk was dead. Punk stopped being interesting when it became chart music. In its place came New Wave—which was really just more of the same played with jangly guitars by bands with a taste for Sixties music. The next really big thing was the utter antithesis of punk. Elitist, pretentious, preening, vain, camp yet utterly inventive.

It was called “the cult with no name”—because nobody knew what to call it. It didn’t fit any easy categorization. There were soul boys, punks, rockabillies, with a taste for dance music and electronica all in the mix. It was the press who eventually pitched up with the tag New Romantics which stuck.

I was never quite sure what was supposed to be romantic about the New Romantics. They weren’t starving in garrets or brokenhearted, writing poetry, indulging in absinthe or committing suicide by the dozen. They were all dolled-up to the nines, flaunting it out on the streets—demanding to be seen.

It had all started with Rusty Egan and Steve Strange running a club night playing Bowie, Roxy Music and Kraftwerk at a venue called Billy’s in 1978.

Egan was a drummer and DJ. He was in a band with ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock called Rich Kids which featured Midge Ure on vocals.
Strange had been inspired to move to London and form a punk band after he saw the Sex Pistols in concert. He moved out of Wales and formed The Moors Murderers. The band included punk icon Soo Catwoman, guitarist Chrissie Hynde and Clash drummer Topper Headon. Together they recorded one notorious single “Free Hindley.”

The same year, Egan, Strange and Ure formed Visage—which was to become a catalyst for the New Romantics in 1980 with their hit single “Fade to Grey.”
Visage: Steve Strange, Midge Ure and Rusty Egan in 1978.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s be kind and rewind.

1978: Egan and Strange move their club night to a wine bar-cum-restaurant-cum-dance-club called the Blitz. Egan was the DJ. Strange was on the door. Strange has a strict door policy. No one gets in unless they dressed like superstars.

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Thomas Edison filmed strippers, drug dens, animal murders, and THE VERY FIRST CAT VIDEO
08:55 am



Edison’s early experiments in film were often pretty scandalous even by today’s standards. There was the time he recorded his favorite body-building stripper, rather gracelessly disrobing upon the trapeze, right down to her massive Victorian underwear. There was also Chinese Opium Den, from which only one frame survives, but you can guess the content. There’s even the time he filmed himself electrocuting Topsy the elephant. So you have sex, drugs and violence, all right there at the beginning of cinema.

Edison really knew what the public wanted, so obviously he made a cat video!

In 1894 Edison filmed “Boxing Cats” at his Black Maria Studio, the charming results of which you see here. Why boxing cats? The Library of Congress explains that this was a relatively popular form of live entertainment for the time:

“The performance was part of Professor Henry Welton’s ‘cat circus,’ which toured the United States both before and after appearing in Edison’s film. Performances included cats riding small bicycles and doing somersaults, with the boxing match being the highlight of the show.”

The Library of Congress’s summary of the film is just “A very interesting and amusing subject.” Can’t argue with that!

Via Public Domain Review

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The true story of the unauthorized, daredevil documentation of the Horizons ride at Disney World
07:46 pm

Pop Culture


Unless you happened to vacation at Walt Disney World Florida in the ‘80s and ‘90s, you might not be familiar with Horizons, a dark ride attraction at EPCOT widely thought of as the greatest vision of “future living” ever created. The two-story, spaceship-shaped pavilion located on the east side of the park’s “Future World” housed a remarkable 54 Audio-Animatronic figures, 770 props, 12 projectors, and a pair of massive OMNIMAX screens (groundbreaking technology at the time) spread across 24 sets set in the year 2086. Upon its opening in October of 1983, Horizons showcased man’s relationship to the sea, land, air, and space through a beautiful series of stunning futuristic vignettes. In a 1989 interview, Michael Jackson cited Horizons as his personal favorite Disney attraction (alongside Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain). Many still consider Horizons to be the greatest Disney theme park attraction, ever.

However, when the 1990s rolled around the ride had significantly lost its popularity with the general public. With tastes rapidly changing and short attention spans increasing, many park guests no longer had the patience to sit still for 15 minutes, and priorities began shifting towards more “thrill-based” rides such as Test Track and Mission: SPACE. In December of 1994, Horizons closed its doors indefinitely without any formal notice or announcement. Serious Disney park goers were devastated by the sudden news and regretful they weren’t given the chance to say a proper goodbye or ride one last time.

“Hoot” (left) and “Chief” (right) in the Art Deco Apartment scene at Horizons. Photo courtesy of the Mesa Verde Times.

Let’s fast forward exactly one year later to December 1995, as two best friends in their late twenties were working mind-numbing desk jobs and living in a shitty downtown Orlando apartment. Dave Ensign (aka “Hoot Gibson”) and Ed Barlow Jr. (aka “Thunder Chief”) had been insanely huge Horizons fans ever since it opened when they were 15 years old. They were thrilled when the announcement came in: Horizons was to be re-opened for a limited time due to the closure of two other attractions that were down for refurbishment in Future World (Universe of Energy and World of Motion). That’s when this story really begins: Hoot and Chief set out to document the ride and get as much photo, video, and audio coverage as they could before it closed again. Not knowing exactly how much time they had to get it done, not knowing how it would be done, just knowing that it had to be done.

Audio-Animatronic figure with Bionic Fonzi in the Desert Habitat Kitchen scene. Photo courtesy of the Mesa Verde Times.

Their next several workdays in the office following the announcement involved making an extensive checklist as they broke down all 24 scenes in the ride and itemized a list of props, hand-painted backdrops, and set pieces. They wanted to document every detail in the ride at all costs. Over the following weeks and months, they equipped themselves with mag lights, still cameras, and huge JVC VHS and Super 8 camcorders. They quickly realized that properly documenting everything on their checklist the way they wanted to would require exiting the “OMNIMOVER” ride vehicle while it was in motion. How would they be able to pull this off without getting caught, and just how extensive was the security on Disney park rides?

In a pre-9/11 Walt Disney World, security measures were basically implemented only when the park noticed significant and repeated incidents of park guests climbing out of their ride vehicles. Only then would they apply whatever security measures were necessary for that particular attraction: Universe of Energy was monitored on closed circuit television; The Living Seas and Haunted Mansion had intrusion mats (a security system that completely shuts down the ride when stepped on by someone who had exited their vehicle); and Spaceship Earth eventually got infrared sensors. To their good fortune, Horizons was perhaps the only Disney attraction ever built without any security whatsoever.

Hoot and Chief started Phase I of their operation with a very basic strategy for exiting their OMNIMOVER ride vehicle: “Jump out, get shots, jump back in.” However, after this went on for a while they wanted to spend more time on the sets, so they began testing different strategies using trial and error to get a larger gap of empty ride cars. Chief would hang out right near the loading area and watch people board the ride using the mirrors in the entry hallway, and Hoot would stay at the front entrance where people entered the building. Chief would count the ride vehicles; there always had to be at least six empty vehicles ahead of them and six empty vehicles behind for them to remain unseen. Upon boarding the ride and rounding the corner they’d jump out and run like the wind to get as far ahead as possible. By keeping count of the car numbers they had a precise idea of how much time they could spend in each individual scene, sometimes 30 seconds, sometimes a minute or two.

Chief jumps back into his OMNIMOVER vehicle. Courtesy of the Mesa Verde Times YouTube channel.

Chief hangin’ out in the Undersea Classroom scene. Photo courtesy of the Mesa Verde Times.

Over the course of the next several months Hoot and Chief had mastered their technique, meeting at EPCOT in the evening after a long day of work at the office. They got very good at knowing how much time they could spend in each scene simply by doing it over and over. But soon this became boring and repetitive; they wanted to explore the ride more, and make it to some of the areas they weren’t able to get to. This began Phase II of their efforts, exiting their ride vehicles and staying inside Horizons while it was operational, sometimes for as long as 4-8 hours at a time!

More of the adventures of Hoot and Chief at Horizons, after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
BASS IN YOUR FACE: Excellent footage of the Sex Pistols’ notorious San Antonio gig
11:23 am



When I read about the very recent incident wherein the estimable Mr. John Lydon shrugged off a bleeding head gash inflicted by a bottle-throwing audience member to continue performing as though nothing had happened (this at age 60, folks—a lot of MUCH younger performers have stopped shows for less) I couldn’t help but be reminded of the great moments in early punk lore—the time that the Sex Pistols, on the brief US tour that catalyzed their demise, played Randy’s Rodeo, a former bowling alley converted into a cowboy bar in San Antonio, TX.

Such an inappropriate booking was clearly a deliberate provocation—this was at a time in when civilians still found tales of routine onstage sex and vomiting at punk shows plausible. So a crowd made up of cowboys and heshers (plus some pilgrims from Austin) had come expecting to see the most preposterous rumors about punk made real, and they had no shortage of missiles to hurl at the band—the usual bottles, cans and cups, hot dogs and popcorn, someone even pelted Lydon with whipped cream, which not only doesn’t hurt, it’s surely more welcome than the more customary gobs of spit.

The Pistols did do a fair job of delivering on punk’s rumored promise—singer Lydon, wearing a gay cowboy t-shirt by Tom of Finland and baiting the presumably hostile audience as “cowboy faggots”, farmer-blew snot onto the stage and the fans in front. Bassist Sid Vicious, actually experiencing heroin withdrawal, removed his coat to reveal “GIMMIE A FIX” scrawled on his chest, and endeavored to silence a heckler by bludgeoning him with his bass.

This clip from the 1980 documentary D.O.A.: A Rite of Passage, of the song “New York” from that storied performance, shows pretty much all that’s described above, and it wasn’t even a third of the way through their set. There’s great audience footage as well—rural metalheads air-guitaring, a seemingly normal woman who’d pierced her nose with a safety pin, and at the end, the guy who Vicious hit with his bass admitting he’d deliberately provoked the musician in performance, still cryassing about his retaliation.

What would you give to be able to time-travel to attend this show?

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
They Drive By Night: The bizarre, profane and fantastically WEIRD art of QSL cards (NSFW)
05:31 pm



I recently discovered the fascinating world of QSL cards, artifacts of an era before the Internet and iPhones when truckers and ham radio operators employed lines of communication made of tubes, transistors and magnetic coils. While surfing the ‘net, I stumbled upon Michelle Cross’s truly amazing collection of QSL cards. It was a stunning find: Thousands upon thousands of some of the weirdest art I’d ever encountered. It was mysterious and evocative. An underground culture where taboos were broken and secret off ramps lead to hidden worlds where truckin’ met fuckin. Racist, sexist, mucho macho and sometimes satirical, QSL cards were Facebook for the men (and few women) who drove by night. Lonely, restless, jacked-up on greenies and white line fever, looking to connect on the asphalt Interweb, always suspended in a state between here and there.

I asked Michelle Cross to write about her incredible QSL card collection (200,000 and growing) and she responded with enthusiasm. Read and enjoy.

When citizen’s band (CB) radio technology emerged in the early 1960s, operators initially used QSL cards in much the same way as ham operators did, to confirm and follow up on contacts made over the air. As CB radio grew in popularity in North America in the late 1960s and early 1970s, QSL cards became a more creative and freeform hobby, and a community formed around them. Participants would design a card or have one designed for them, get copies printed locally or by mail order, and start trading and collecting.

Not every CBer got involved with QSL cards; to put it in perspective, there were tens of millions of people on CB radio during its heyday, but only tens of thousands making and exchanging QSL cards. Those who did would often make and exchange hundreds or thousands of cards each, often without ever having spoken to one another over the air.

Professional illustrators and printers began to offer QSL card services. Some artists would create collectible numbered series of their work. Enthusiasts would order multiple cards from different artists and printers. QSL swap clubs were started to facilitate collecting and would have dozens and sometimes hundreds of members. CBers would meet up at events, jamborees or what they’d call “coffee breaks” and could trade and order more cards in person. The hobby spread across North America, and had a presence in Europe and the UK as well. It began to decline in the late 1970s and was essentially over by the early to mid 1980s.

I first encountered some QSL cards in an antique shop in the early 2000s. Growing up in the 90s I was really into independent and underground art, media and culture, especially zines, so I’d always gravitated towards obscure printed matter. QSL cards definitely resonated with me on a similar level as zines had, but it took a while to figure out what on earth they were. I did some research and found a few more, but there was almost no information outside of what was contained in the cards themselves and whatever I could find out from people who were originally involved. There was no evidence that anyone had made a systematic attempt to preserve and document them, so I started a website and kept collecting. It’s now the largest known collection of its kind. It currently numbers around 200,000 cards but is by no means complete or exhaustive. Information is hard to come by. Often the original participants have passed away or have forgotten many of the details after half a century, so the history is patchy, but the cards themselves provide a lot of information and insight.

The cards were a form of social media for their time, a snapshot of almost everything going on in society and culture, taboos and all. I like to showcase the cards that hint at strange, underground and taboo activities and themes, but as a whole, QSL cards were never limited to one particular subculture or scene.

QSL graphics range from primitive line drawings to R. Crumb-like stylishness. I have yet to track anyone down who can tell me anything about Michel Dumais and his artist Henry Paul. They designed hundreds of cards and were pretty much the only professional QSL card printer and artist in Quebec. “Runnin Bare” is a man named Jesse from the Pacific Northwest. He was not only an artist but a printer too. His company printed millions of cards designed by him and other artists in the 1970s. He designed a few thousand Runnin Bare cards himself, and also hired a few artists to draw series under his name. Runnin Bare himself was not a very sexy or explicit artist—his cartoons and jokes are mostly tame and lighthearted. Between the demands of the work and a personal tragedy (the loss of a young daughter) he eventually burned out on the caricature cartoon style and gravitated more towards nature drawings by the end.
More QSL excitement after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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